Psychoanalysis of Anti-Semitism II: Splitting and Narcissism

  • Stephen Frosh


The idea that the Jews as a separate and historically denigrated ‘out-group’ serve as suitable cultural recipients for the split-off, unacceptable elements of the anti-Semite’s psyche is a pervasive one in psychoanalytic theorising on the subject. The general notion is that psychic life is made up of contradictory unconscious impulses or ideas sufficiently defended against so that they can be organised into reason-ably integrated patterns. Under some circumstances, such as personal or social trauma, those impulses that are most disturbing to the individual are experienced as powerful enough to threaten the person’s stability, leading to impending fragmentation and breakdown. Preserving the psyche becomes urgent, a matter of life and death, and extreme measures are often taken to accomplish it, including ejecting the unwanted impulses into some form of outside carrier. This process of ejection, known in psychoanalysis as projection, constructs a useful enemy out of what is available in the outside world; in the case of anti-Semitism, the Jew is thus made into the carrier of what is hated and threatening to the integrity of the anti-Semite’s psychic life.


Borderline Personality Disorder Substitute Object Oedipus Complex Psychic Life Authoritarian Personality 
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© Stephen Frosh 2005

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  • Stephen Frosh

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